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I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | Know the truth of Christ’s resurrection in your heart

Easter Sunday celebrates the greatest feast of the entire year, Christ's resurrection from the dead. But we need to ask ourselves: "Is my experience of Christ's resurrection primarily head knowledge, or is my experience both head and heart knowledge?"

Exploring the readings, beginning with the Gospel, helps us answer the question. In the Gospel of John, Mary of Magdala "came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb."

Not wanting to violate the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala waited to go to the tomb until early in the morning. Even though it was dark, she saw that the stone was rolled away.

St. John Chrysostom, a Father of the Church, wrote that Christ came forth from the grave while the stone and its seal were still in place.

This reveals so much about the Resurrection. Physical barriers no longer confine Christ's resurrected body. The remarks of St. John Chrysostom fit with the latest scientific findings about the Shroud of Turin.

Scientists who have studied the Shroud of Turin inform us that science doesn't account for the marks on the shroud. Some insist that the image on the shroud was "made without human hand. Some believe that the imprint could have been caused by radiation (at an intensity of 1,013 electros per square centimeter)" (Witness to Mystery, p. 69).Hence, the stone and its seal were incapable of preventing such radiation from escaping the tomb.

We surmise that God had the angels remove the stone so Mary of Magdala and the apostles could see that the tomb was empty. The news of the Resurrection spread, first to Peter and John. They both ran to the tomb, and Peter entered first. He saw the burial clothes lying where the body had been. Next, John went in, saw and believed. "For they did not yet understand the Scripture that He had to rise from the dead."

The news of Christ's resurrection spread rapidly throughout the Christian community. However, at this stage they didn't understand what this meant for them. Later, Jesus appeared to Mary of Magdala, and she recognized Him as "Teacher," someone who had taught her heart so much. In a similar fashion, Thomas wasn't with them when Christ appeared on Easter night to the apostles. Thomas told them that he wouldn't believe until he put his finger in Christ's hands and his hand into Christ's side.

One week later Jesus obliged Thomas on a return visit, with the invitation to place his hand in Christ's side. Thomas responded, "My Lord and my God!" Here, heart knowledge replaced speculation.

For the apostles, heart knowledge of Christ's resurrection was a work in progress. In the first reading, Peter recounts Christ's years of ministry, including His passion, death and resurrection.

"This man God raised on the third day and granted that He be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead. He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that He is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead." Throughout the Acts of the Apostles they experienced Christ's resurrected presence in their powerful teachings, and miracles to confirm the teachings.

In the second reading, Paul writes to the Corinthians, "For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." Clearly, Paul encourages the Corinthians to experience the risen Christ within them, leading them to bear fruit that flows from His resurrection.

We might ask: "Is my knowledge of the Resurrection primarily head knowledge, or is it lived heart knowledge flowing from my experience of the Lord transforming my heart?"

The feast of the Resurrection is an invitation to welcome the living risen Christ into our areas of weakness and doubt, so that we might experience the fruits of His risen presence in our behavior. In writing to the Philippians, St. Paul states, "It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus."

For this to become a reality in our lives, it's helpful to take time daily in quiet time, reflecting on those Scriptures that bring His post-resurrection experiences into our lived experiences. The more time we spend reflecting on how He worked in the hearts of His sinful followers, the more confidence we have that He does the same for us. They didn't fix themselves up, but rather opened their poverty-stricken hearts to something better, His presence, His mercy and His desire to enter their hearts.

Here on earth we make friends with others by sharing our hearts with them and allowing them to share their hearts with us. The more we exchange hearts, the more we're attracted to them and nurtured by their friendship. The resurrected Jesus wants us to spend similar quality time with Him. 

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